Best Mirrorless Cameras for Every Budget
These models rival SLRs in image quality and features, but they weigh less, are slimmer, and tend to be cheaper
It’s easy to see why many photographers fall in love with mirrorless cameras. They have features very similar to those of SLR models the pros use. But mirrorless models tend to be smaller and lighter, which comes in handy when you’re out exploring a new city or hiking in Yosemite.
Mirrorless cameras slim down by giving up the movable mirror found inside an SLR. That means sacrificing the through-the-lens viewfinder that lets you see a shot exactly as it’s going to be captured. But the electronic alternative employed by mirrorless models works just fine in most cases.
More to the point, a mirrorless camera lets you keep the SLR’s interchangeable lenses and large image sensors, which capture far more detail than a smartphone camera can. Additionally, mirrorless cameras can produce uncompressed RAW image files, which provides lots of flexibility when you edit your work.
“Today’s mirrorless models come close to matching the low-light performance and lens variety of their bigger cousins,” says Artur Pietruch, a Consumer Reports test lab photography expert. “And mirrorless models can create much better video.”
The mirrorless cameras we recommend produce high-quality images, come with an impressive electronic viewfinder, and have wireless compatibility (helpful in transferring your pictures to a phone or computer). Testers grade the cameras on almost 150 data points over the course of three to four weeks.
For more information, check our camera buying guide and ratings, which include more than 160 models, from basic point-and-shoots to sophisticated SLRs.
At just $500, this camera rates as a Consumer Reports Best Buy. Our testers praise the swiveling touch-screen LCD, the long battery life (360 shots), and the video microphone that records in stereo—not to mention the still image quality, which earns a Very Good score in our tests.
As for video, the first consumer-grade camera to record in 4K was from Panasonic’s Lumix line (way back in 2014), and this model continues that tradition, providing 4K clips that rate Very Good.
Panasonic’s mirrorless cameras earned top marks from Consumer Reports members for both owner satisfaction and predicted reliability, based on a statistical model that uses survey results to estimate problem rates within the first four years of ownership.
This model from Sony has a full-frame sensor that produces still images that rate Excellent in our tests; the sensor can handle a wide variety of lighting situations. Even without a flash, it delivers sharp photos with little visual noise.
The camera earns a Very Good score for its 3-inch swiveling LCD screen and long battery life (350 shots). It captures very good video, plus audio in stereo.
There are, however, a few drawbacks. Weighing in at 22 ounces, it's heavy for a mirrorless camera, and it can’t shoot video in 4K.
This camera earns a Very Good score for photos and an Excellent rating for video.
The kit lens comes with 3x optical zoom, as well as wide-angle capabilities for group shots or capturing landscapes. The built-in flash provides even coverage, but without flash, the camera still produces sharp low-light images free of noise.
The LCD viewfinder is bright and sharp enough to use even when shooting in direct sunlight. It also swivels, giving you flexibility if you’re taking a self-portrait or shooting from an awkward angle.
The highlight is the camera’s in-body image stabilizer, which our testers rate as Excellent. This means zoomed-in and low-light photography remains blur-free; it also makes the X-H1 ideal for shooting video, which it captures in 4K.
This pricey-but-powerful model delivers photos that rate Excellent and video that rates Very Good. For serious photographers, though, the big draw will be the hybrid viewfinder. Unlike all the other mirrorless models on this list, which rely solely on a digital viewfinder, this camera gives you the choice to use an optical viewfinder, important when you’re trying to capture fast-moving subjects.
While the lack of an in-body image stabilizer may raise eyebrows at this price, our testers found that blur from hand shake was never a concern when shooting with a telephoto lens or in low light. The camera also has built-in WiFi, an 8-frames-per-second burst mode, and quick power-up.
And while looks aren’t everything, the camera body’s styling, a nod to the classic Leica M3, has old-school charm. But it’s no wilting beauty; environmental sealing means it’s a weather-resistant shooter good even in more extreme conditions.
For those who want the best of the best, the Fujifilm X-T4 is Consumer Reports’ top-rated mirrorless camera.
The APS-C sensor produces sharp, noise-free images, even in low light. And while the 4K video quality isn't quite up to the standards of the best mirrorless cameras we've tested, it's likely to please most users.
The camera starts up quickly, and is ready for the next image almost immediately. Our testers also found it earns an Excellent rating for its mechanical and optical image stabilization systems, making the X-T4 great for shooting action.
We tested the X-T4 with an 18-55mm zoom lens often sold as part of a package, as well as a more expensive 16-80mm OIS zoom lens that offers wider angles for landscapes and a more powerful telephoto, which performed slightly better in our tests.
The drawbacks of the X-T4 are relatively few. It’s somewhat bulkier and heavier than other mirrorless cameras, weighing in at 36 ounces, and it lacks a built-in flash.